The marketing trends you need to know for 2021

Surprise! We've written an article about predictions.

The marketing trends you need to watch in 2021

Surprise! We’ve written an article about predictions.

It’s broken up into different sections so you can take your pick… read about one area, read about them all? Depends on how trendy you’re feeling.

Our marketing, video and animation, design, branding and PR teams have given their thoughts on the trends we can expect to experience this year.


Video and animation

First off, we talked to Aaron MacDonald, our Creative Content Director and all-round tech and media lover.

“With the events of 2020 highlighting the absolutely critical need to communicate information in a clear, visual and easy-to-understand video, I think 2021 will see a boom (another boom… a boom boom) in animated explainer videos, animated gifs on social media, and short TikTok and Snapchat style messages across all digital platforms.”

“With the average animated explainer video being under 1 minute in length, stylistically easy on the eyes, tailored to deliver messages to ‘stick’ in the viewer’s mind, it’s the perfect form of content for our safety-conscious times.”

“When you need to make sure that everyone gets the message, then animated explainer videos will increasingly be seen as the go-to solution in 2021.”

“Aside from delivering these key messages, video and animated content in 2021 will play an increasingly important role in sales funnels. When researched and scripted correctly, answering customers’ questions and queries, video content can become a real lead magnet for businesses that use it in the right way.

“Got FAQs for example (written down or in your mind)? Thought about answering some of these in video format? Video content allows businesses to be seen, heard and understood by their target audiences.”

What about some developments from the past, will we see any of these flourish?

“Yes, absolutely. With the high-street taking a real beating last year, with some unfortunate high-profile casualties, I think 2021 will see the re-emergence of ‘shoppable videos’. It’s not an entirely new concept, having been around for a number of years. But with many high-streets still out-of-bounds for shoppers across the globe, this could be the year that shoppable videos – where consumers can buy products on the spot – make a serious mark on online retailing.”

Branding & Design

On the brand and design front, Richard Davison-White, Kenyons’ Art Director, also recognises the impact that Covid-19 has had on the way businesses marketing and promote themselves:

“In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 also saw the climate emergency gain significant media traction. In 2021, many of the businesses (and business leaders) that lended warm words to the need for climate action, will be expected to follow through with actions.”

“So, I expect 2021 to be the year in which eco-branding truly comes to the fore and becomes a mainstay of branding and design best practice.”

But, what exactly is eco-branding? Richard answers:

“It’s a concept which encompasses a multiplicity of factors. Not only do ecologically conscious brands consider the impact of their marketing materials (e.g. using recycled paper, environmentally friendly inks), but they also factor in the wider environmental impact of their products. A brilliant example is Patagonia, which not only uses reclaimed sea plastic in their waterproof jackets, but also encourages people to buy second-hand Patagonia products.”

That’s clearly a very bold approach to reducing a company’s carbon-footprint. But, are there other things a brand can do?

“Indeed. There are some very, very ambitious projects out there, which are pushing the limits of what is practical and/or achievable, yet nevertheless are worth looking at for inspiration. A personal favourite is this solar-powered website.”

“The team behind the website looked at what was really necessary for a green website, versus what is a nice to have. The result is a back to basics static website which avoids a database-driven content management system and instead opts for dithered images, off-line reading options and other tricks to lower overall energy usage. The result? The team can run the website from a single solar panel.”

“As I said, this is very much at the extreme end of the scale, but I do think 2021 will be the year in which companies give real, serious, consideration to the ecological impact of their branding and design activities. 2020 has changed many people’s priorities, and perhaps brands should change their priorities too.”

Public Relations

If you work in any kind of business or organisation, then you’ll know that last year was a public relations rollercoaster! From the initial lockdown in mid-March, through to the uncertainties and worries around the re-opening in Summer, 2020 proved to be a very challenging year for business messaging.

Our Creative PR Manager, Matt Donnelly, worked with all of our clients to ensure they were responding to queries, communicating clearly, and dealing with any challenges appropriately. So, what does he expect 2021 to hold?

“2020 certainly was a challenge, especially given the relatively poor way in which the Government chose to communicate important public health messages. The result of this was that corporate, retail, hospitality and other communication teams had to pick up the slack and find concise and clear ways of communicating with their customers that achieved cut through.”

“I suspect 2021 will see a continuation of this. Especially as various parts of the country begin to ‘descend’ through the tier system. Again, like last year, the keyword for comms and PR teams will be ‘reactive’. You should be ready to drop plans at the drop of a hat and instead consider your stance/response to hastily-made government announcements.”

“More broadly, I think 2021 will see digital PR as a discipline continuing the huge growth it experienced last year. More brands are waking up to the enormous benefits that high-value backlinks and large volumes of referral traffic can bring to their business. Whilst 2020 saw lots of really successful consumer-focused digital PR campaigns, 2021 could be the year that more forward-thinking B2B focused businesses adopt digital PR campaigns and reap the rewards.”

Marketing Campaigns

Last year was the year of hastily paused ad campaigns, hastily launched ad campaigns, and emotionally-driven, values-led ad campaigns as well as perhaps the largest amount of government-directed public service announcements since the Second World War.

The volatile events of last year will undoubtedly overshadow marketing campaigns in 2021, but what are the key trends people should be keeping an eye on?

We asked Clio Young, Kenyons’ Marketing Campaigns Manager:

“Firstly, I would say that the idea of being able to plan marketing campaigns over the course of a full quarter (or longer) has gone in the bin (where, incidentally, many people would like to put 2020).”

“As the events of last year demonstrated, it proved impossible for marketing teams to plan out months of content, advertising activity and ad buys. I think this will linger through 2021, as marketing teams, who were burnt by the unpredictability of last year, choose to adopt a more agile and reactive approach; especially in customer-facing businesses such as retail, hospitality and events.”

“Secondly, I think 2021 will see a further acceleration of the activist mindset amongst marketing teams. 2020 proved that it was no longer acceptable for businesses (especially customer facing ones) to remain neutral in the face of cultural events.”

“Brands are now expected to ‘stand-up’ in terms of their purpose, their customer-facing messages and their internal practices. The most important part of this, is for companies to actually deliver on their words. There were multiple instances last year when companies were caught flat footed. Having made public declarations on cultural issues, they were caught out by eagle-eyed consumers who did their homework and exposed problematic hiring practices or poor track records.”

“In 2021, brands will still be under pressure to adopt an activist mindset, and deliver upon it.”


So, there you have it. The trends you should watch this year, as set out by the Kenyons team.

If reading this has left you wanting to feel even more trendy, we’re here to talk. (